I had a backup program that put everything in the cloud - which was of course an earthbound server farm in New Jersey - and my upload speed wasn’t the best. Old-man-pee-trickle speed. When I began the backup app told me that everything would be complete in about 87 days. You get a notice the next day that everything will be finished in 91 days, because the connection speed changed from “ant on hot tar” to “pushing grains of rice through cold syrup.” You pause it to do a podcast over Skype, forget to restart it, and it’s now 114 days.

When everything eventually was complete they lost everything.

Many apologies and a full refund and an offer of an upgrade, so they could lose even more of my data down the road. Declined.

So what to do? How to ensure that everything’s up there, somewhere, safe and secure? Well, Amazon has a program called the Amazon Drive, like Dropbox, I suppose. The interface in the app is very clean - it’s practically nonexistent. Actually, it is practically nonexistent. There’s no way to manage what you’re doing in an app. You have to go to the website, where you see that you have all these files on Amazon, even though the folder that says Amazon Drive on your computer is tumbleweeds empty.

You can’t upload folders. Got that? If you have a folder of 1,935 photos, nestled in labeled folders, you have to create the folder in the browser interface and bucket-brigade everything.

But the same company can have Indian food delivered to your house!

You want to say: guys, focus. Maybe figure out this storage service thing that involves computers, which I think you know something about, before you get all exited about sending strangers driving around town distributing Vindaloo.

Which, by the way, was incredible. Daughter and I had it on Sunday, and were weeping with pain throughout the whole meal. As I tweeted the next day about leftovers: don’t know whether to have the remaining Vindaloo or just hit myself in the mouth with a hammer and pour a glass of water over my head. My shirt was wet after I finished. If I’d put the bowl down for the dog he would have taken one sip, licked his mouth for twenty minutes, then finished the rest while crying.

Forget Amazon. I went to my Google Drive. If you upload a folder to your Google Drive in the browser, it appears in your Google Drive folder, creating a redundant set of data on your machine. So that’s not what I want, either. Do I want Amazon’s AWS? That lets me put data on the thing that it is somewhere. No, I don’t. Could have sworn they had a Cold Storage plan once upon a time. Could have sworn I signed up for it, too. Apparently not. So we’re back to looking at automatic online backup programs, and the most interesting one with the easiest interface and the most reasonable price is -

The one that screwed it up the first time.

Do I sound a bit obsessed with backup? I am. It’s the closest I’ll get to uploading my brain to a computer. It’s not death that bothers me, much, it’s having the work disappear.

But why should it remain? Just because I did it? Well, they still read Pepys diary.

But that’s because it’s the only one. Most of this is chaff and dross, I know, but it’s something, and the cumulative body of work doesn’t deserve to be put to the match the moment I give up the ghost. There are the columns - 1,500 would be a conservative estimate, and having read my share of columnists who relied on a humorous tone rather than being actually, you know, funny, I think they deserve something else than being scattered here and there in a newspaper database that may or may not call them up, or even exist down the road.

I should just put them in books and have them bound and printed for eventually storage in the U of M archives. If they’ll have me.

It was actually a good day, warm and bright, but now I’m depressed. Ah well: no time for that. I’m a newspaperman, and I have to write a column now.

Correction: I get to write a column.




I’ve been watching “Feud,” at the frustrating pace of one episode per week - COME. ON. This is the 21st century. Seventeen years in. It’s almost one fifth OVER and you’re doling them out one per week; it’s insane.

The show concerns the making of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” a movie that kicked off the “psycho-biddy” genre, according to wikipedia. Not really, but perhaps, sure. There were lots of crazy old ladies in OTR, but most weren’t campy gothic nightmares. Most were dotty. The Dotty Old Killer would turn into a staple after Baby Jane, but before that there were the domineering sisters who ran the lives of their helpless sibling. It occurred in radio plays over and over. One sister was simple, and liked to sew and sing; the other was intelligent and bitter. Father had left them money, and they lived in the same house where they were born. The outside world was dangerous; smarter sister shielded simple sister from its deprivations.

So there was precedent. I do love the term “psycho-biddy,” though. So into the show walks Victor Buono, or rather an actor playing him. He cheerfully announces he’s a fat queen, eats a donut, walks off.

I really hope they do him justice. When I was young I bought his spoken-word comedy / poetry album because he was on Batman. Makes sense? Of course. He was also on Wild Wild West, I think. And of course Carson, where he would read his verse. His album, “Heavy!” was about being fat, and it was amusing and witty and smart. Listening to some tracks again, I was reminded that much of my delivery was probably shaped by certain voices and styles:

Tom Lehrer
Peter Schickele
And, now that I think about it, Victor Buono.

I listened to these albums until I could repeat them verbatim along with the performer. But I never wanted to go on the stage, or do stand-up. When I look back on it now I wanted to do this: radio, really. You and the mike and the audience.

Something I never forgot: Buono, on the second side of the album, did a bit that was the most astonishing comedy-killer I have ever heard. I mean, it’s just . . . stunning.

As for “Feud,” it’s great. But everyone is horrible. Hollywood and TV love making movies and shows about how horrible they are. Also, love us! We're wonderful.


They called her "The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips" and "The Gardenia of the Screen."

"Is now considering a comeback." Well, here's what happened before:

A crucial blow to her film career occurred after she married her fourth husband, David Mdivani, a Georgian man of minor aristocratic roots, whose brothers Serge and Alexis married actress Pola Negri and the heiress Barbara Hutton respectively.

The couple married on June 27, 1926, and Mdivani became her manager, suggesting that his new wife ought to leave MGM. Murray took her husband's advice and walked out of her contract with MGM, making a powerful foe of studio boss Louis B. Mayer.

Later, she would swallow her pride and pleaded to return, but Mayer would not rehire her. In effect, Mayer's hostility meant that Murray was blacklisted from working for the Hollywood studios.

She ended up working a nightclub in her fifties.

Murray refused to acknowledge her age, wearing heavy layers of makeup and fitting her mature figure into short skirted costumes with plunging necklines. Mdivani had "bankrupted" her, says his page, and he went on to marriy a Sinclair Oil heiress.





It's 1938.

When agony descends, we're sure you'll laugh:

Women - the maker of the home ideal - will most appreciate this one-piece toilet. Indeed, it is a thing to be proud of, a status item, a sign you’re modern and clever and well-off.

So naturally the ad sticks it off to the side because it is all still SHAMEFUL.

When I was a kid I thought “Standard” toilets were from the same company that made Standard Oil, which was our nemesis because we were Texaco. A little history from the company:

By 1929, Standard had become the world's largest producer of bathroom fixtures.

That same year, the Standard Sanitary Corporation merged with American Radiator Company to form the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation.

American Radiator! Howells and Hood built their HQ, and I’ve always loved this building.

The Twenties seemed like such a fascinating era from my vantage point of Fargo 1976 - there's a solidity, romance, and mechanized beauty to its avant-garde work, and make no mistake this was that. New York’s skyline was smaller, but in a way it seemed bigger - no incomprehensible glass monoliths, but buildings of brick and stone spaced out so one could see the terrain of the smaller buildings. Now you look across the street, and half the time it’s another wall.

Anyway, nice toilet ad.

In days of old when knights were bold . . . and little lamzee divy, I can't remember the rest.

The table disappears in the second panel. The wall-hanging has been knocked away, but continues its fanishing act at a slower pace, although it too is gone by the third panel.

FLIT is, or was, an insecticide; it had DDT, so it worked. The pump displayed in the fourth panel would be known as a Flit Gun, passing into general generic usage. The artist, as you have no doubt noted, bore a stylistic resemblance to Dr. Seuss.

Flit turns insects into geometric shapes:

Quite the odd performance by the voice-over guy, but it was the era of the Mixed-Up Neurotic type who wasn't part of the Establishment.

Of course I know that was Geisel! Or have you already run off to the comments? ;)

So they had the models a year before the World's Fair opened? Makes sense

Beautiful, but empty. Rational, but soulless.

When you think about it, this really was something special.

Even if you were middle-aged and accustomed to radio, now and then you'd think "music and voices out of the air - it really is remarkable. The modern age is amazing! I wonder what the cars will be like after the war? Oh, right, I shouldn't know there's a big war coming, becauseni's 1938. I must be a stand-in for the blog's author."


That'll do for today! Don't miss my MONDAY newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.


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